Bhadrak: With just two days ahead of Diwali, residents of Ogalpur in Bhadrak district, well known as the ‘potter’s village’ seem a worried lot, thanks to the use of plastic and steel wares that have taken away their source of income.
The mere popularity of being called a potter’s village does not help the villagers make both ends meet, the villagers say. With plastic and steel wares gaining ground in towns and villages, the income size of the potters’ community has fallen drastically affecting their livelihood.
Years back, the village was well known for its earthen lamps and various other products prepared by the residents. The products were of huge demand in the area.
Villagers would get work orders all throughout the year. Moreover, Diwali would come as an income bonus for the villagers. The villagers used to work day and night and make beautiful products and sell in the market.
Even women and children expertised in making varieties of the products. As per tradition, men of the village buy carts full of earth, sand and firewood. Then a lump of well kneaded earth is placed on the wheels to shape different kind of lamps.
Then, women folks prepare lamps using moulds while children lay these lamps in sun to get dried. Later the dried lamps are burnt in an oven ready to be sold in the market. No sooner, the lamps and products reach the market, they are sold, bringing a huge profit for the villagers.
However, things have changed drastically for the people now with the easy availability of plastics at cheaper rates. The products face tough competition from colourful fancy and Chinese lamps that glut the markets now-a-days, smashing the little remaining hopes of the residents of earning few bucks during this festive season.
“We used to earn during Diwali season. However, plastic products have affected our livelihood. Whatever we earn from selling lamps and other earthen materials, fail to see us through a year, as it used to be in earlier days,” rued Sudhakar, an earthen lamp maker.
“If we work for a whole day, 700 lamps are produced. But the ultimate result is that most of our products are remained unsold in markets due to Chinese and fancy lamps which are sold at a comparatively less price. Even though our income has come down, we are keen to carry forward our family business and cannot give it up. A little help from the government would help us,” he added.
Echoing Sudhakar, Upendra Behera said, “businessmen do come to our village to buy lamps during this period. But what they give in turn is far less than what we expect according to our labour.”
On the other hand, the potters expressed their resentment with the government for not taking any steps to keep the tradition alive.
“Ogalpur lamps and earthen wares have their buyer even today. But our products need value addition. In other states the traditional potters have been given training to add value to their products. There the traditional wheel has long been replaced with electric wheel and artisans are working using modern technology. But here the government is doing nothing for us,” senior villagers alleged.
They further complained that there was no source of encouragement from the government and the tradition was no longer giving income enough to run a family which forced the present generation to switch to other businesses or work as bonded labourers.